Centre Vs Delhi Govt on Control Over Services - IE - 16/01/23
A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court (SC) is hearing a dispute between the Delhi government and the Centre over the control of administrative services. Almost five years ago, another Constitution Bench had ruled in favour of the State government in a similar tussle.
->Timeline of the Dispute:
i. 2017 Judgement: The Delhi High Court had, in its judgment 2017 held that for administration purposes of the National Capital Territory (NCT), the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) is not bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers in every matter.
ii. 2018 Judgement: A five-judge Constitution bench had unanimously held that the L-G of Delhi is bound by the aid and advice of the elected government, and both needed to work harmoniously with each other.
iii. 2019 Judgement: A two-judge Bench of the SC delivered a split verdict on the question of powers of the Government of NCT of Delhi and Union government over services and referred the matter to a three-judge Bench.
iv. 2022 Case: The Centre on 27th April 2022 sought a reference to a larger Bench, arguing that it needed the power to make transfers and postings of officers in Delhi on account of it being the national capital and the “face of nation”.
The court agreed that the limited question relating to the scope of the legislative and executive powers of the Centre and NCT of Delhi, with respect to the term “services”, would need an authoritative pronouncement by a Constitution Bench in terms of Article 145(3) of the Constitution.
->Arguments and Counterarguments in the Issue:
a. Arguments For:
-The Centre has consistently maintained that because Delhi is the national capital and the face of the country, it must have control over administrative services, which include appointments and transfers.
-The Delhi government has argued that in the interest of federalism, the elected representatives must have power over transfers and postings.
-The Delhi government had also contended that the recent amendments to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, violate the doctrine of basic structure of the Constitution.
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